Toxic Attraction Between an Empath & a Narcissist

I discovered I was an empath after I got involved in a very deep and highly destructive relationship with a narcissist.

Through writing about the empath personality type I connected with many others who identify as an empath, and time and again I have heard people tell me how they also attracted relationships with narcissists. There is a link. So, I decided to explore it further.

This is my theory…

From my own experience and studies on the narcissist personality type, there is always one core trait: A narcissist is desperate for attention.

Something, somewhere along the line, usually stemming from childhood, to go to great lengths to receive constant validation, as a way of reaffirming their self-worth.

Here comes the empath, the healer.

An empath has the ability to sense and absorb other people’s emotions and often takes them on as though they were their own. If an empath is not consciously aware of boundaries and does not understand how to protect themselves, they will very easily and very quickly bond with the narcissist in order to try to fix and repair any perceived damage while attempting to eradicate all their pain and suffering.

What the empath fails to realise is that the narcissist is a taker and, usually, they are not looking to be healed. They are energy suckers – vampires so to speak. They will draw the life and soul out of anyone they come into contact with, given the chance. This is so that they can build up their own energy reserves and, in doing so, they can use the imbalance to their advantage.

This dynamic will confuse and debilitate an empath. It’s as if empaths do not have a full understanding of their own—or other people’s—capabilities; they fail to see that not everyone is like them. An empath will always put themselves in other people’s shoes and experience the feelings, thoughts, and emotions of others, while forgetting that other people may have an agenda very different to their own and that not everyone is sincere.

The narcissist’s agenda is one of manipulation; it is imperative they are in a position whereby they can rise above others and be in control. The empath’s agenda is to love, heal, and care. There is no balance, and it is extremely unlikely there ever will be one. The more love and care an empath offers, the more powerful and in control a narcissist will become.

The more powerful the narcissist becomes, the more likely the empath will retreat into a victim status. Then, there is a very big change—the empath will take on narcissistic traits as they too become wounded and are constantly triggered by the damage that comes with being in the company of a narcissist. Before long, an extremely vicious circle has begun to swirl.

When a narcissist sees that an empath is wounded, they will seize on this, and the main intention will be to keep the empath down. The lower down an empath becomes, the higher a narcissist will feel. An empath will begin to frantically seek love, validation, confirmation, and acceptance from a narcissist and each cry for help will affirm to the narcissist what they are desperate to feel inside—worthy. A bitter battle can ensue.

As an empath focuses solely on their pain, trauma, and the destruction of their lives, they become self-obsessed and fail to see where the damage is coming from. Instead of looking outwards and seeing what is causing it, the empath will turn everything inward and blame themselves.

An empath at this stage must realise the situation they are in and wake up to it, as anyone who is deeply in pain and has been hurt can then become a narcissist themselves as they turn their focus onto their own pain and look for others to make them feel okay again.

Any attempt to communicate authentically with the narcissist will be futile as they will certainly not be looking to soothe and heal anyone else. Not only this, they are extremely charismatic and manipulative and have a powerful way of turning everything away from themselves and onto others. A narcissist will blame their own pain on an empath, plus they will also make sure the empath feels responsible for the pain they too are suffering.

An empath will know that they are in a destructive relationship by this stage and will feel so insecure, unloved and unworthy that it can be easy to blame all of their destruction on the narcissist.

However, an empath should not be looking to blame anyone else. An empath has a choice: to remain the victim, a pawn in the narcissists game or to garner all strength they can muster and find a way out.

Emotionally exhausted, lost, depleted, and debilitated an empath will struggle to understand what has happened to the once loving, attentive, and charismatic person they were once attracted to.

However we allow ourselves to be treated is a result of our own choices. If an empath chooses to stay in a relationship with a narcissist and refuses to take responsibility for the dynamic, they are choosing at some level what they believe they are worth on the inside. An empath cannot let their self-worth be determined by a narcissist. It is imperative they trust and believe in themselves enough to recognise that they are not deserving of the words and actions the narcissist delivers—and to look for an escape.

In an empath’s eyes, all they searched and looked for was someone to take care of and love and to ultimately “fix.” That is where the trouble began and that is the most profound part of this that an empath must realise.

We are not here to fix anyone. We cannot fix anyone. Everyone is responsible for and capable of fixing themselves, but only if they choose to.

The more an empath can learn about the personality of a narcissist, the sooner they will spot one and the less chance they have of developing a relationship with one. If a relationship is already underway, it is never too late to seek help, seek understanding and knowledge, and to dig deep into one’s soul and recognise our own strengths and capabilities so that we can do everything we can to build the courage and confidence to walk away—for good.

The chance of a narcissist changing is highly unlikely, so we shouldn’t stick around waiting for it to happen. If a narcissist wants to change, then great, but it should never happen at the expense of anyone else. They are not consciously aware of their behaviour and the damage it causes and in their game they will sacrifice anyone and anything for their own gain—regardless of what pretty lies and sweet nothings they try to whisper.

An empath is authentic and is desperate to live true to their soul’s purpose and will very likely find the whole relationship a huge lesson, a dodged bullet, and painfully awakening.

A narcissist will struggle to have any connection to their authentic self and will likely walk away from the relationship very easily once they realise they have lost their ability to control the empath. The game is no longer pleasurable if they are not having their ego constantly stroked, so they will seek out their next victim.

The ability for these two types to bond is quite simply impossible. The narcissist’s heart is closed, an empath’s is open—it is nothing short of a recipe for a huge disaster, and not a beautiful one.

Writing: Alex Myles

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  1. This is well thought out. The narcissist attraction factor is a persistent pitfall for INFJ as they will naturally take advantage of the patient listener and their people-pleasing nature. Have seen it in others as well as myself throughout life. It is a vicious pattern and if the empath does not grow to recognize that they will repeat the same mistake over and over. It can feel selfish to cut someone off, but sometimes it is necessary. One cannot be available to help the deserving if they have been drained by a greedy leech. It is the INFJ’s responsibility to set their own boundaries and enforce them.

  2. I’m an Empath and got tangled up with a narcissist. 5 years later I’m trying to break free from he. He has drained my soul. I block him and he leaves voicemails…nice and sweet then nasty ones. I’m doing my best now to just delete without listening to them. I’m physically and emotionally sick. Doing the best I can right now.

  3. I’m a 72-year-old male empath who, like many of us, learned the hard way that I have empathic ability. And I have to say that I’ve never read a better article than this one. My first encounter was not just with a narcissistic person but with a narcissistic environment. While in my mid-20s, I worked for three years as a counselor for violent juvenile offenders ages 14 to 17. When I left the youth development center, the director wrote me a glowing reference saying I was “a never-ending stream of positive programming.” I had found that while I was there, the best way to keep the “students” (as we called them) out of trouble was to keep them busy. But of course, since it was a narcissistic environment with many narcissistic teens, there was never an end to the drain on my inner spirit. When I left the detention center, I found I was a broken person, drained of life energy. However, rather than being infected with meanness myself from this experience, I embarked on a lifelong leaning experience. I learned that there is both sentient good and sentient evil in the world, and I learned to breathe in the good creative energy and to keep the bad at bay as much as possible. When I was 46-years-old, I moved to a beautiful rural environment in what is known as the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. At one job I had working at a local resort, I met a woman who was narcissistic and badly damaged by a tumultuous, chaotic upbringing. She had been created as such by her narcissistic father and her harsh environment. Yet she was also a very talented empath. She was years younger than myself, but she became a friend. And now, decades later, people have told me that she would have ended up in jail had it not been for me. However, with my decades of self-development after my first experience with narcissists, a more interesting option became open to me, and rather than sacrificing myself, this woman and I became joined in a venture that benefited both of us. It was at that time that another female friend of mine, Ronna, who holds a fourth-degree black belt in martial arts asked me the pivotal question, “Have you ever considered writing warrior women novels.” What followed was a decade-long writing experience where I became an author, and the young woman (Dawn) became the heroine of the four-novel series. One local college professor, also a friend of mine, called the series “a tale of redemption for Dawn.” I followed Dawn’s often chaotic journey towards emotional enlightenment for the entire decade and my book series follows her development and is the basis for the leader of the warrior women, a woman named Chen. As for me, what I got out of it was I was able to pass ten years here on earth in a creative way, experiencing the flood of creative energy that surged through me during the entire writing of the saga. I don’t want to mention the name of the series here because this post is meant to point out that even those of us who have been broken by a narcissistic environment and by narcissistic people at a younger age can, with the help of sentient creative energy, be healed. If you want to learn a bit more about the saga, you can go to my Facebook page

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